It was a surprise announcement that saw many tears of joy shed. It was a convergence of circumstances that made for one of the most memorable moments in the history of Huskie football and the Canadian Football League draft.
At the twelfth annual Dogs’ Breakfast earlier today, Saskatchewan Roughriders’ President Jim Hopson announced that they are selecting Saskatchewan Huskie offensive lineman Ben Heenan first overall in CFL Canadian draft. It was not a surprise that the Roughriders would take the hometown kid, but to make the announcement at the Dogs’ Breakfast in front of 2000 Huskie fans made the selection extra special for both Heenan and the Huskies.
“It was really overwhelming, and nothing short,” said Heenan of the announcement. “To spend that moment with and be able to stand up and hug my mom and dad, it was really special. For my family to be there and to do this in front of 2,000 Huskie fans, it was unreal.”
Heenan becomes the second Huskie to be selected first overall in the CFL draft, joining 2008 first overall selection Dylan Barker, who was picked by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. This is the second straight year the Huskies had a player selected in the first round, with receiver Jade Etienne selected fourth overall by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last year. The Huskies have had a player picked in the first two rounds of the draft five of the past six years and have had at least one player picked in each draft since 2003.
When Heenan joins the Roughriders, he will be reuniting with former teammates Scott McHenry and Paddy Neufeld. Heenan and Neufeld were both first-team all-Canadians in 2010 for the first-place Huskies, and Heenan is excited to reunite with his good friend, this time in Rider green.
“It’s something really special,” said Heenan about being on the same team as Neufeld. “When he left the Huskies, we said it would be nice if we could meet up somewhere in the league in the future. To be able to do that this year will be real special.”
Heenan feels that much of his success can be attributed to the Huskie program, something he is grateful for. “The Huskies support is something I will always remember,” he said. “They were instrumental in turning me not only into the football player I am, but the person I am today. For that, I’m forever indebted.”